Earlier this year, I was taking an inventory of my blog posts with the thought of writing a book. A great part of regular content creation is that you’ve got a lot to pull from. Over the years, I’ve written and drawn a lot to support that work. And when I laid out what I had, it seemed like both enough content and the right content. I took images of previews and dragged them into logical chapters which all came together nicely. The idea was to be a guide to self discovery and personal evolution because that’s how many of my posts were written. Many gravitated towards each other naturally. At some point though, it didn’t feel right. It stopped being introspective as it was when I wrote the blogs and it started being prescriptive. It lost its sense of innovation and, in the process, its reason for being. I didn’t realize why as I worked, but it stopped gelling.
This weekend, I was reading Austin Kleon’s newsletter and came across both a blog entry on self-help books and a podcast I’d missed with him and Mike Rohde. Both of them wrote books I found influential and I came across them at close to the same time. Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist isn’t really a self-help book, it’s more a book you read and it gets you inspired to do something. Rohde’s Sketchnote Handbook is also inspirational in a way which makes trying a new skill out very accessible. One of the points which struck me is that “advice is autobiographical”. That was where I was going wrong. That’s where my tone was off. I’d done much of my early writing and drawing in a way which drove my own self-awareness and led to thoughts which changed my career as I went. They also prepared me for a way to cope when my dad got dementia and I had to deal with some very serious issues surrounding it. My writing and drawing were highly autobiographical – both in the means to express myself and to use them to get past the daily or weekly trauma.
It took a bit of time away from the project and some different thinking to get me to the point where I realized where I was going wrong. I don’t have it solved yet, but at least I’ve figured out why it went astray. The next step is, quite naturally, another step along the same path of self-help.